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Today, the Legislative, Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) released a study on community mental health services. Last year, the General Assembly adopted House Resolution 515 of 2019, which directed LBFC to conduct a broad-based study of Pennsylvania’s county administered, community-based mental health (MH) services. The resolution directed LBFC to collect and present information on 10 comprehensive and complex data points.

In response to HR 515, LBFC modified the objectives and scope and focused on creating observational summaries of data, which were collected from various state agencies, including the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Corrections (DOC), and the Health Care Cost Containment Council PHC4). LBFC also surveyed all county MH Administrators. The report can be found on the LBFC’s website.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed another renewal of the state’s disaster declaration tied to the coronavirus pandemic, even as state lawmakers hope to curtail some of his broad powers in emergencies. On Friday, Wolf signed a 90-day extension of the disaster emergency, his fourth renewal of the proclamation. He signed the first order on March 6, the day the first COVID-19 cases were reported in Pennsylvania. View full article from PennLive.

February 19, 2021

Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today provided an update on Pennsylvania’s progress administering COVID-19 vaccines to residents and staff of long-term and congregate care facilities eligible in Phase 1A. To date, more than 193,000 residents and staff of nursing facilities, personal care homes, and assisted living facilities have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose through the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program. Additionally, nearly 10,000 residents and staff of other long-term and congregate care facilities licensed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) have received their first vaccine dose through the partnership with Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid, and this partnership is being expanded to include residential drug and alcohol treatment providers licensed by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) who identified as needing a vaccine provider.

“Vaccinating residents and staff of long-term and congregate care facilities – people who are often most at-risk of a severe case of COVID-19 if exposed – protects our most vulnerable residents who are not leaving their facilities and homes themselves but are most affected by rates of COVID-19 in our broader community,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “This progress is a much-needed reprieve for long-term care facilities that have been particularly challenged by COVID-19 and community transmission, and it’s a line of defense for our health care system as a whole.”

Pennsylvanians living in these facilities eligible for the federal program are receiving vaccines from CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens. As of February 19 all skilled nursing facilities have had their first round of COVID-19 vaccine doses, CVS has completed 100 percent of the second dose clinics and Walgreens is working to vaccinate the remaining second dose clinics before all nursing facilities are complete. More than 70 percent of personal care homes and assisted living facilities covered through the partnership have received their first round of vaccine doses, and CVS and Walgreens expect to finish first rounds before the end of the month. To date, the partnership has administered:

Vaccinations as of Feb. 19 First Doses Second Doses Total Doses
CVS Pharmacy 161,935 86,567 248,502
Walgreens 31,358 9,788 41,146


“Through the work of the Federal Pharmacy Partnership’s (FPP) we are able to ensure every nursing home resident and staff member who wants a vaccine can receive it – and we are proud of the progress thus far,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “As nursing homes finish administering the remaining second dose clinics, we know that when the federal government’s mission for the FPP program is complete we will remain committed to getting vaccine to incoming residents and staff in the future. The Department of Health and long term care facilities remain vigilant and will continue to vaccinate through existing relationships with health care providers, just as with routine medication and flu vaccinations.”

Other long-term and congregate care settings included in Phase 1A of Pennsylvania’s Interim Vaccination Plan, including group homes for people with disabilities; residential treatment facilities and long-term structured residences for adults with behavioral health needs; and private psychiatric hospitals, are not included in the federal partnership but are still in the Phase 1A due to the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in congregate settings.

These settings serve people who have co-occurring medical needs that put them at higher risk of severe cases and death if they contract the virus. Some personal care homes and assisted living facilities also were not enrolled in the Federal Pharmacy Partnership program and may be served by the Rite Aid partnership for DHS-licensed facilities.

Vaccine clinics for these facilities are being held on-site for facilities where people served are not able to travel off-site. Additional clinics are being scheduled at centralized locations when possible to accommodate more facilities and community group homes, which are typically small, private residences. To date, the partnership has administered:

Facilities with First Doses Administered Total Doses Administered to Date Facilities Scheduled for Vaccination Expected Doses through Scheduled Clinics
Office of Developmental Programs Facilities 1,512 4,978 102 753
Office of Long-Term Living Facilities 83 3,539 32 1,920
Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Facilities 13 1,342 13 988


Nearly 9,900 people have been vaccinated so far through this partnership. Approximately 3,660 people living and working in 147 DHS-licensed facilities and group homes are currently scheduled to be vaccinated through this partnership. Expected reach of this partnership has shifted as some facilities have ended up receiving vaccinations through other contacts.

Additionally, the Rite Aid partnership is expanding to vaccinate residential drug and alcohol treatment providers licensed by DDAP who identified as needing an established partnership with a vaccine provider through a survey administered by the department. Approximately 450 people will be vaccinated at 12 scheduled clinics at residential treatment providers where people served are not able to travel off site through early March.

“Often, residential drug and alcohol treatment providers are forgotten among other congregate care settings, however some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens are receiving treatment for the disease of addiction in these facilities,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. “The Rite Aid partnership is another tool in our COVID-19 toolbox to minimize community transmission and ensure all health care providers have established partnerships with vaccine providers.”

Learn more about the partnership with Rite Aid and view more data here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Every day tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination numbers for Pennsylvania do not include Philadelphia, which is its own jurisdiction, or federal facilities, which are working directly with the federal government.

  • This week, a total of 326,850 doses will have been allocated through February 20:
    • 183,575 first doses will have been allocated this week.
    • 143,275 second doses will have been allocated this week.
  • To date, of the 2,766,400 doses allocated through February 20, we have administered 1,867,240 doses total through February 18:
    • First doses, 86 percent (1,387,443 administered of 1,610,175 allocated)
    • Second doses, 41 percent (479,797 administered of 1,156,225 allocated) 

Vaccine Order signed Feb. 12
Last week, Sec. Beam signed an order outlining appropriate steps and recognized best practices to ensure vaccine providers deliver 80 percent of doses within seven days of receipt, provide a phone number where people can speak to an individual to make an appointment and report race and ethnicity data for everyone vaccinated.

Your Turn tool
Last week, Pennsylvania launched the Your Turn tool to help everyone understand where they fall in the vaccination prioritization effort. The Your Turn tool directs eligible residents to the department’s vaccine provider map online to locate a trusted local provider and schedule a vaccination appointment. Your Turn also allows people to register to receive updates about vaccine distribution and allows the department to let you know when it is your turn to get vaccinated.

In addition to the Your Turn tool and while vaccine supply from the federal government remains limited, the Department of Health is working to ensure the vaccine is provided in a way that is ethical, equitable and efficient.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
  • Download the COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa”.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

Community preparedness and procedures materials

MEDIA CONTACTS: Barry Ciccocioppo, Health – ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov
Erin James, DHS – ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov
Rachel Kostelac, DDAP – 717-547-3314

On June 19, 2018, Governor Tom Wolf signed and codified the Employment First Law and established the Employment First Law for people with disabilities. Attached are the 2021 Employment First Annual Report and the 2020 Employment First Oversight Commission Report.

Additionally, the Employment First Oversight Commission Leadership beginning January 27, 2021 has been named. We are proud that RCPA member Steve Suroviec, President/CEO, Achieva, is the chair of the commission. The leadership positions are:

A link to these reports is also available on the Department of Labor & Industry’s Department of Labor & Industry’s website, under the “Employment First Act Documents & Reports” heading. Additional information or alternate formats of the reports may be obtained by contacting Edward M. Butler, OLTL Employment Specialist via email or phone (717-214-3718).

Image by Katja Fuhlert from Pixabay

The Wolf Administration has released a new order effective today to increase the administration of vaccine dosages received; ensure ease of scheduling appointments; reinforce specific reporting by vaccine providers; and ensure accountability in providers’ adherence to vaccine priorities. Key messaging around the order and specifics can be found in the order. A frequently asked questions document can be accessed here.

HARRISBURG (January 22, 2021) — Governor Wolf announced today that he has nominated Alison Beam as the next Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Beam will succeed Dr. Rachel Levine, who was recently selected by President Biden as his Assistant Secretary of Health.

With many years of experience in the health care arena, one of Acting Secretary Beam’s first priorities will be executing the Department of Health COVID vaccination plan. Prior to her nomination as the Secretary of Health, Ms. Beam served as the Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Tom Wolf.

RCPA President and CEO Richard S. Edley commented, “Acting Secretary Beam’s work with policy development, legislative initiatives, communications, and stakeholder engagement involving multiple state agencies will prove invaluable in helping Pennsylvania move forward to combat the current COVID crisis and all of its far-reaching implications for the health and human services community. As all PA citizens know, focus on and success in this area will be critical. RCPA extends our sincere congratulations and we are very optimistic as to what the future holds for this administration, and for the Commonwealth as a whole.”

Read the Governor’s official press release here.

About the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association (RCPA):
With well over 350 members, the majority of who serve over 1 million Pennsylvanians annually, Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association (RCPA) is among the largest and most diverse state health and human services trade associations in the nation. RCPA provider members offer mental health, drug and alcohol, intellectual and developmental disabilities, children’s, brain injury, medical rehabilitation, and physical disabilities and aging services, through all settings and levels of care. Visit www.paproviders.org for more information.

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